Earlier this week, someone I follow on Facebook wrote:
As the school year begins, what do you think about this statement below:
“I’m more concerned with the kind of people they become than the test scores they earn.”
I love that this is the kind of question parents, and people in general, are asking as our kids were getting back to the classroom.
And it immediately made me think of the video by Taylor Mali, “What Teachers Make.”
I agree with Mali, incidentally. Teachers make more than their take home pay, they make more than their hours in the classroom, they make more than test scores show.
We help to mold and shape young minds. We direct their thoughts and actions. We put a stamp on their lives that might, hopefully, guide them towards greatness.
We make authors, poets, writers, artists, sculptors, painter, actors, doctors, lawyers, journalists, servicemen and women. We make activists, opinion makers, presidents, politicians, police officers, and, if we are lucky, teachers who aim to make the same things that we did.
We make kids love learning, love exploring, love challenging their brains. We make readers, and achievers, and kids who know how to do basic math. We push the kids at the top, and help the kids who struggle. We focus on the kids in the middle, who often feel left out.
We smooth over playground fights, help heal hearts, offer a shoulder to cry on, a friendly face. We provide meals when lunch is forgotten, a safe place to run, and person who loves unconditionally.
We provide feedback, critiques, and motivation. We provide morals, ethics, and history lessons. We discuss, we debate, we argue, politely, of course. We agree to disagree.
Your teacher, and your child, are more than the test scores show. They are dreamers, doers, and humans on a journey. They are making progress, slowly or quickly, but progress is happening.
Test scores are just a number, assigned by a system that is treating our children like so many machines in a factory. They want accuracy and proficiency and annual yearly progress. They forget that a human is behind that number, a person with thoughts and feelings.
A number shows how well they take the test on paper or on the screen. It does not show the intangibles that create a well rounded person. It does not show their love of the truth, their pursuit of knowledge, the way they helped the new kid make friends. It does not show the beautiful poster they made, or the poetry they created. It does not show them.
A teacher is more than the sum of the numbers of her students’ test scores.
She is the one who stayed up all night perfecting that science experiment, who designed a bilingual newsletter, who made a lock down drill feel safe. He is the one who brought history to life, who made numbers fun, or who took time just to talk.
What do teachers make? We make the world a better place, we make a difference.
Would you rather have your child do well on a standardized OR have them become a well-rounded, morally centered human being? Why?